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Utsavi Tak ‘24 Builds Community, Professional Network Through UIndy Psychology Graduate Program 

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Leading up to Spring Commencement, we’re asking some of our graduates to tell us about their experience as Greyhounds and what they have planned for the next step in their journey. Meet international student Utsavi Tak, who will receive her Master of Science in Psychology with a concentration in child psychology, this May! 

Why did you pursue your master’s in psychology?

I chose to pursue my major in psychology due to my deep-seated motivation to enact positive change within my community. Growing up, I witnessed a lot of my peers enduring traumas without access to professional support due to the pervasive stigma surrounding mental health in my hometown. This realization fueled my determination to make a difference and provide assistance to children facing similar challenges. I firmly believe that by studying psychology and acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills, I can contribute to breaking down the barriers to mental health care and offer support to those in need within my community.

Why did you choose to study at UIndy?

I was drawn to UIndy for my master’s in psychology primarily because of its strong sense of community. What really stood out to me was the personalized approach to mentoring offered by the faculty. Additionally, the diverse range of research opportunities was incredibly appealing. Each faculty member brings their unique expertise to the table, allowing students like me to explore various areas of psychology throughout the program. Moreover, I appreciate that the program also serves as solid preparation for pursuing a PsyD, which aligns perfectly with my career aspirations! 

Are you a part of any extracurriculars (RSOs, societies, student leadership, teams, volunteerism, etc.) on or off campus? If so, what are they and what is your role?

I’ve recently taken on the role of a camp counselor at Hoosier Burn Camp. Last summer, I volunteered there as a cabin counselor, supporting children who are burn survivors. This year, I’m excited to step into the role of a camp counselor again, where I’ll be assisting children with behavioral challenges and helping them learn strategies to overcome obstacles. 

In addition to my role as a camp counselor, I’ve been actively engaged in campus activities, volunteering for events such as the Graduate Student Speaker with Psychology Student Association, Celebration of Flagsand World Fest, Psych POP event, and theUIndy Solar Eclipse Fest. I find great fulfillment in contributing to these events, not only for the opportunity to give back but also for the chance to connect with fellow Greyhounds and build meaningful relationships! I am also a part of two research labs in the Psychology Department, and have presented my research at the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference and will be presenting at ICQI in May of 2024! 

Are there any faculty or staff members who have significantly impacted your time at UIndy? If so, who are they and how did they influence you?

I’ve been fortunate to have an abundance of support and guidance from several remarkable individuals during my time at UIndy. Dr. Kathryn Boucher stands out for the incredible professional growth opportunities she’s provided me with. Then there’s Dr. Michael Poulakis, who has been an invaluable mentor throughout my Master’s journey, offering guidance and wisdom every step of the way. Dr. Hui Zhang deserves mention too, as she has played a pivotal role in expanding my research horizons. And of course, there’s Dr. Jordan Sparks Waldron, whose unwavering support and encouragement have been significant, whether it was navigating the internship process or applying for PsyD programs. But it’s not just the faculty; I’ve also had exceptional supervisors at work—Betsy, Jen, and Lori—who have become like family to me away from home. Their guidance and support have been indispensable in shaping my professional growth and personal development. 

How have UIndy’s resources helped you to succeed and pursue new opportunities?

The Stephen F. Fry Professional Edge Center (ProEdge) really helped me with my resume and CV and applications for PsyD programs. Brittany Dyer provided exceptional feedback, offering prompt and detailed insights on the materials I provided!

During your time at UIndy, did you have the opportunity to complete an internship or earn part-/full-time employment with an organization in your field? If so, what was it and how did it help you professionally?

Yes! In the summer of 2023, I had the fantastic opportunity to intern at the Emberwood Center in downtown Indianapolis. This experience provided invaluable insights into the practical aspects of working in the field of psychology. It allowed me to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application, enriching my professional growth significantly. 

Additionally, since Fall 2022, I’ve been serving as a part-time tutor at the BUILD department, where I provide academic support to undergraduate students with learning disabilities. This role has not only honed my skills in education and support but has also deepened my understanding of diverse learning needs, further preparing me for my future endeavors in the field. 

What are your plans after graduation?

After completing my master’s in psychology, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be starting my PsyD program right here at UIndy this coming fall! Looks like you’ll be seeing me around for another five years!

How did your degree program prepare you for your next steps?

Completing my master’s has provided me with invaluable preparation for pursuing a PsyD. Through my experiences, I’ve learned to cultivate strong organizational skills, effectively managing a multitude of responsibilities such as classes, assignments, work commitments, research labs, internship, graduate assistantship, and volunteer work simultaneously. This has instilled in me a sense of confidence in my ability to balance the demands of a PsyD program while staying on top of my commitments. 

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at UIndy? 

One of the most recent memorable moments at UIndy was our BUILD department’s annual Jeopardy competition between students and tutors. Despite my lack of experience with the game, I dove in eagerly, only to find myself facing some truly challenging questions! While I was hopeful that the tutors would clinch victory this time, it turned out the students were incredibly knowledgeable, outperforming us with ease. It was a humbling experience, and it made me realize that perhaps we could benefit from some lessons in general knowledge from the students!

What advice would you give to incoming students?

One piece of advice I received as a freshman myself was: ‘Do it scared.’ Beginning college can feel overwhelming, with a multitude of new experiences and challenges ahead. However, it’s essential to embrace these opportunities for growth and exploration, even if they initially seem daunting. Remember, stepping out of your comfort zone is where real learning and personal development occur.